Spectacularly punished by voters who took away her majority in parliament, a politically wounded Theresa May sought to soldier on Friday as Britain's prime minister, resisting pressure to resign after the failure of her high-stakes election gamble made the massive challenge of untangling Britain from the European Union only more complex and uncertain. When an exit poll correctly signalled the result as polls closed, the pound fell on global markets.
What is a hung parliament? But there is also a chance the United Kingdom could go back to polls later this year under the Fixed Term Parliament Act, if two- thirds of MPs vote for it and lose confidence in a government that is not strong enough.
Here are a few questions over what it means and its implications for the country. The fact that this complexity has been reflected in this vote should not be seen as a problem.
With 650 MPs in Parliament, 326 seats are needed for an absolute majority in the House of Commons. However, with almost all votes counted, the Conservatives are on 315 seats, short of the 326 mark that ensures a majority. Her most likely alliance is with the Northern Irish DUP, which would push her to a majority, though she could also attempt to form a minority government with backing from her party. If Britain ends up with an unruly minority Conservative government dogged by an emboldened Labour opposition, the fearsomely complex Brexit negotiations, due to begin in just 11 days, will become even more hard.
That could allow Labour to argue that Mrs May should quit before a certain date if there is clearly an "anti-Tory" majority in the Commons that would inevitably reject her Queen's Speech and support Jeremy Corbyn as PM. Since then, May suffered embarrassing criticism and even u-turns over her party's electoral manifesto and the conduct of the campaign itself.More news: Apple pushes Siri to the fore at annual developer conference
The Liberal Democrats, which had won 12 seats as of early Friday morning, and who have allied with the Conservatives in the past, quickly ruled out the prospect of a new coalition with their past partner.
Betting markets had been bullish about a Conservative majority. "If neither of the parties receives the necessary 326 seats, then the need to form a coalition cabinet will arise", Slutsky concluded.
If May is unable to put together a coalition, Queen Elizabeth II could ask the Labour Party, which is the main opposition political party, to try and form a government.
It's hard to see how any of the options above could survive a full term, and that means one thing: yet another general election, perhaps as soon as within the next 12 months. The election has only worsened that divide-the two parties have hoovered up 82% of the national vote, more than at any point since 1979.
The Guardian - which came out in support of Labour ahead of Thursday's vote - led with the headline: "Corbyn stuns the Tories" ahead of a picture of the grinning party leader. "We know when they must end", he said, referring to the March 2019 deadline.